Guest Student Stays at City Center

Live the Temple Live.  Guest Student Stay

Please note: At this time, the City Center guest student program is open. As a residential community, we are still in the process of post-pandemic reopening and are adjusting our protocols periodically to ensure the safety of our residents.

Program Details

Guest students participate in the practice schedule and daily life of City Center. This includes morning zazen (sitting meditation), service (sutra chanting and bowing), work (often of a physical nature), and communal vegetarian meals. Zazen instruction, classes and lectures on Buddhism, daily Dharma discussions, and meetings with teachers are also offered. Guest Students are also invited to participate in intensives, sesshins (silent retreats), and one-day sittings if scheduled during their visit.

Guest Student Daily Schedule

Monday through Friday Saturday - day off of work
5:25 am wake-up bell 6:30 am zazen
5:50 zazen 7:00 service
6:50 service 7:15 soji
7:05 soji (temple cleaning) 7:30 breakfast
7:20 breakfast 8:10 zazen instruction (optional)
9:00 work begins 9:25 zazen (optional)
12:30 pm lunch 10:15 lecture
1:30 resume work 12:00 pm lunch
4:00 end work Afternoon off
5:30 zazen (optional after first 2 weeks)  
6:10 service (optional after first 2 weeks) Sunday
6:30 dinner Day off of work and day off of practice schedule
7:30 lecture (Wednesday only)  

Length of Stay

The guest student program offers the possibility of being in residence from a minimum of two weeks to a more extended stay of three months. Toward the end of the guest student stay, students may consider applying for long term residency.

Long Term Residency

For those interested in continuing at City Center for a long term stay after being a guest student, they can apply to be a Work Practice Apprentice. Click here to learn more.  In order to apply as a WPA, students are required to do a minimum 2-week guest student stay.

Health and Safety

City Center is a congregate living facility which includes high risk individuals. As such, the process of post-pandemic reopening and the student guidelines outside of San Francisco Zen Center may be more restrictive than City and State mandates.

Anyone applying to be a Guest Student must be fully vaccinated with one of the three FDA-approved vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. One is considered fully vaccinated two weeks past the final (or only) vaccination shot. (If you are an international student who has not received one of these vaccines, but you would still like to join us for a guest student stay, please contact the guest student manager.)

Currently, City Center is not open to the public for events such as Dharma talks and zazen. Residents may go into museums, restaurants, and stores as long as they follow the mask-use guidelines of the establishment. Though residents are not required to wear masks inside the temple, residents must wear masks when riding public transportation or going to medical appointments.

Please contact the guest student manager to learn about the most current guidelines if you think this will impact your ability to participate in community life.

Hybrid Program

Guest students participate in a hybrid program involving in-person and online guest student activities. The majority of activities take place in person including living and working in the temple, sitting zazen in the zendo, engaging in temple ceremonies, and taking meals in the dining room. For safety reasons other activities, such as classes and Dharma talks, take place online and students participate individually from their rooms. As the temple moves closer to full reopening, these online programs will take place in person.

To Apply

Please complete and submit the Guest Student Application Form. Ideally applicants will have an established Zen practice; however, this is not required.

In addition to filling out the application form, send a letter of recommendation to in order to complete your application. This letter can be from a spiritual teacher, academic teacher, mentor, or employer. Please provide contact information so that we may reach your teacher/mentor if necessary, including their name, email address, and phone number.

  • Please apply at least one month prior to your preferred arrival date. Applications may be submitted less than a month before; however, due to the reviewing process your application may not be accepted in time for you to begin your stay on your preferred date. Applications may be submitted up to a year ahead of your planned visit.

Approval and Fees

Applications are reviewed and approved in the order received.

  • For stays of 2 – 6 weeks:
    $50 non-refundable deposit covers the first two nights of one's stay.
    $25/night for anyone staying 2 – 6 weeks.
  • For stays of 7 weeks to 3 months there is an initial $50.00 deposit. There are no other fees to participate. Room and board are fully covered.

Live the Temple Life. Guest Student ProgramPlanning Your Stay

Guest students arrive at City Center, 300 Page Street, at 9:45 am on Monday, and ring the bell at the main entrance. City Center does not provide parking so it is advisable to take public transportation, a taxi, or use an app-based car service (like Uber or Lyft), and leave your car elsewhere. Rooms are currently single occupant; however, as safety permits we may return to shared rooms with two students. We will provide you with a zafu (meditation cushion), sheets, blankets, pillows, and a bath towel. A full packing list will be provided once your application has been accepted.

In the spirit of maintaining Buddhist precepts, guest students are asked to abstain from drug and alcohol use, and from initiating new sexual relationships during their guest student stay.

City Center Guest Student


Contact Brenda Proudfoot, the guest student manager, at